The Five Doctors

This is the Fan Edit that started the whole thing off, with a history that goes all the way back to the VHS release of The Special Edition.

Like many others I`m sure, I had always wondered what The Three Doctors would have been like if Bill Hartnell had been well enough to take part. But what about that other Anniversary story? What would it have been like if Tom Baker`s ego hadn’t stopped him from taking part in The Five Doctors?

Years ago I set out to answer that question by combining the VHS of The Five Doctors with footage of Tom taken from The E-Space Trilogy, especially State of Decay. The reasons for this were two-fold:

1] If Tom had taken part then JNT would have had him wearing his burgundy Season 18 outfit

2] State of Decay is the only Tom story to mention, and feature, a Tower

This first VHS version, from over ten years ago, was simply a case of connecting up two video recorders, intercutting the footage and dubbing the sound from the two individual VHS tapes in Machine One onto a third tape in Machine Two. Quite a tricky operation and a case of making sure you get your timing right! I came across a reference to this original VHS Edit on one of the Fan Edit forums a while back and shudder to think what it would look like if I was to see it now!

FIVE DOCTORS CDTo get Tom into the story in that original version, I had the idea of using the sequence where K9 loses control of the TARDIS in Full Circle and then followed that with Borusa thumping the game console to give the idea that Tom was in The Death Zone too.

The storytelling conceit was that he was in the area but didn’t quite make it to the Dark Tower, getting stuck at the Vampire Tower instead. Since I was simply intercutting two VHS tapes there was no way I could combine the footage to show both towers in the same location. A shot like that was exactly what was needed to really sell the notion that Tom was there but didn’t make the grand finale. Unfortunately this was the Nineties and such a shot was impossible but I never forgot the idea.

Fast forward over a decade and now I have all sorts of basic computer wizardry at my disposal that the BBC back then could only have dreamed of. So when I revisited this edit I knew that I needed to create two shots, frame-by-frame, to show The Two Towers [see what I did there?] together. If they are close to each other, then that helps explain why Tom doesn`t quite make it to join the other Doctors.

This is the Second DVD Edit and so technically it’s the third time I’ve edited this story and probably the last! There are quite a few differences between the previous mk2 version and this new mk3 edit, the most obvious of which is that the mk3 version is two longer episodes instead of the five shorter episodes of the mk2 version!

Part One

The Opening & Closing credits were re-done from scratch using my updated Davison title sequence and the theme music was re-done as well, being a combination of the Derbyshire#2 & Howell versions, the latter being pitch-shifted down a whole tone to fit with the superior previous version. Unlike most Fan Edits, here we have a full set of closing credits. It was too good an opportunity to miss. The sequences of the Doctors being timescooped were augmented with parts of each Doctor`s title sequence on Borusa’s time telly thingy. This seemed to me like an obvious fan-pleaser that somehow JNT overlooked.

The Eye of Orion in the original is clearly filmed in the same place as the Death Zone so I played about with some filters until I achieved a look that was as radically different as I could get while still saying that it was the most tranquil place in the universe. I was aiming for a Zero Room type look, not just for reasons of continuity [if it really is the most tranquil place in the Universe] but because I felt it was important to visually differentiate the two locations. I also created an entirely new shot for this sequence which wasn’t in the mk2 version.

Tom getting snatched was simply a shot of the Tardis from Full Circle with the Timescoop added frame by frame, which was time-consuming to do but effective. And there’s another entirely new sequence once each of the Doctors get snatched that includes both Circular Gallifreyan and a certain brand of Action Figure, neither of which were available at the time of the mk 2 edit, for you to enjoy. There’s also a completely new shot of New Series Gallifrey in there too!

There’s another bit of Circular Gallifreyan on Tom’s scanner and yes, it is translatable. I also added the Dark Tower to the shot on the scanner when Four and Romana initially land.  The telescope POV shot from State of Decay was where I finally got my Two Towers shot in. Going from one tower to the other was done frame by frame and when Tom lands his Tardis outside the village, I made up a little graphic showing the two towers in relation to each other, to match the one seen on Five’s console monitor. All of these shots help to tie the two narratives together and maintain the illusion that Tom was there all along!

As usual the incidental music proved to be the trickiest part of the process, meaning I had to combine soundtracks from two different stories by two different composers, Peter Howell and Paddy Kingsland. That meant finding Five Doctors cues to lead into a State of Decay scene and State of Decay cues to lead into a Five Doctors scene! I`m pretty pleased overall with the result and it was the fiddliest part of the edit to do and as a result there`s much more music in this fan edit than there was in the actual show of the time. It was a real challenge finding cues from both stories to cover the joins but really satisfying when you found one that just seemed to fit perfectly!

Although The Master here is played by Anthony Ainley, I used the famous “dum-dum-duuuum!” Delgado Master cue by Dudley Simpson for his appearances, and I can’t help but wonder what this story might have been like with Roger D instead of Tony A.

I tried to use the SE version for FX shots where possible but it`s not always a simple case of replacing one with the other – the Dalek chase sequence with Hurndall`s Doctor for example is cut together completely differently.  

“Freeze, Sarah Jane – if you move we`re dead!” is the obvious cliffhanger moment to end on.

Part Two

To maintain the illusion that the two towers – Rassilon & Vampire – are in the same space, this ep sees the first use of a composite screengrab image I made up showing the two towers close to each other, but separated by the mountains. I use a zoom in on this image when the action moves from one tower to the other. It works well enough I think and strikes me as the kind of thing that would have been done had the story really been structured this way.

Again, I tried where possible to use the SE version for FX shots etc and you will notice that there is some re-ordering of scenes, marking out the running order as different from both the TX and SE versions. And, with this mk3 version, I was glad I was able to lose the entire “Easy As Pi” sequence with the chessboard & the Cybermen. It doesn`t advance the story and the crossing of the board still doesn`t make sense to me no matter how I try. Losing a naff scene like that was one of the advantages of doing a longer, two-part, New Series-style edit.

This edit also loses the scene where Two contacts Five, which was a shame but the whole point of a Fan Edit is to do things differently and we were already pushing close to an hour with part two so for pace reasons I dropped it. Its loss means we don’t see the Tardis arrive but that was a price worth paying I reckon. I also cut the wide shot of the Tomb as it’s a bit rubbish – there was a brilliant vid on YouTube where someone had included a huge statue of Rassilon above the bier – I`d have loved to included something like that but motion tracking isn’t something my editing set up can handle so I’ll leave that to Rick Kelvington and Farmergeddon!

With the Tom storyline, I had to structure the material in such a way that the Vampires advance on him at round about the same time that Borusa tries to stop Five joining his predecessors. That wasn’t easy, working out where to cut from one to the other to maintain the tension but not ruin the narrative flow. And then we come to probably my favourite bit but the one that caused me the most trouble.

I never really felt either the TX or SE versions made enough of the “Concentrate! We must be One!” scene. It`s not the climax of the entire story but it`s the bit we`re looking forward to the most – all five together at last.

So I tried to big the moment up as much as I could and using the Mawdryn Undead cue – you know the one – seemed the only sensible option. It`s absolutely brilliant and just seemed to fit perfectly. So I retimed the cuts between the Doctors to fit the cue and then I came to the obligatory flashback sequence!

This caused me a few headaches as I tried to find what I felt were the best bits of footage to use in a montage celebrating twenty years, at that time, of the show. I don’t know about you but I’ve always felt that they keep choosing the wrong clips for these things! The idea was that the easiest way for the other Doctors to get Five to remember who he was would be to remind him of the TARDIS, the one constant through all his incarnations. I`d really have liked to have some echoed audio clips of each Doctor saying “I am the Doctor!” over the sequence but it proved a bit too problematic to realise  so I reluctantly ditched the idea.

The flashback allowed me to include a Hartnell clip as well as honourable mentions for Jo Grant and Roger Delgado. What better to remind the Doctor of Who he is than all the monsters he has fought. So it`s a roll call of the show`s biggest, baddest and most memorable. It was a really tricky sequence to do and I`m still not entirely happy with it but I reckon it`s probably as good as I can get it. Feel free to do your own alternative versions!


And so Peter walks over to join his predecessors and now here was my one and only opportunity to get all five together on screen, albeit briefly. The screengrab of Four that’s used here is from Logopolis [part four I think] and the idea is that Tom psychically projects himself to join them in the Mind Link – it seemed to me like the only realistic option and it sort of works. After that it`s Rassilon`s appearance or at least the Rassilon Pantomime Ghost. I never really liked the SE version – pitch shifting the voice down seemed pointless to me, so here we hear the difference between Rassilon`s own voice and his introduction!

The idea here is that Rassilon destroys the vampires and frees Tom as that part of Decay managed to fit that final Shada gap in the original perfectly. The sequence was retimed as I had to edit out the cutaways in the original to Adric & Romana, which meant I had to drop the sound effects as they didn’t fit with the reordering of the shots, so that’s why the sequence has different fx underneath the music cue.

five doctors tom baker adrian salmon

Five Doctors DWM

Then it`s onto the goodbyes. My only real regret in the mk2 version was that I just couldn’t find a way to fit in a Tom departure shot, as the one from State of Decay includes bloody Adric and there was no way I was featuring him! So Tom’s departure was a bit sudden and Delgado-esque, which was a pity but pretty unavoidable. However, it’s amazing what a few more years experience can do for you and this time I managed to work in that Tom departure shot after all!

Again, when the Tardis leaves the Tomb I cut the wide shot, using instead a reverse of the ship’s arrival from earlier. The final Tardis scene is augmented only by a concluding shot of the Police Box spinning away from us to new adventures, which is a damn sight better than that ridiculous grin on Peter Davison’s face…

And that`s The Five Doctors, over ten years in the planning, a real labour of love, and the third and probably final ever version.

Happy Fiftieth Anniversary, Doctor Who!

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19 thoughts on “The Five Doctors

  1. Now *that* was just magic! I love the shots that pan from the Dark Tower to the Citadel! Effing gorgeous!

    One idea though: would it have been possible to put Pat’s line “Doctor! We need you! Join us!” over one of Tom’s scenes? They’re calling out to him for help while he’s being cornered by vampires.

    • ooh, now that’s a good idea Sean – wish I’d thought of that! Will save it for the mk4 version in 2023!

      Glad you liked it!

  2. What a fantastic edit! Well-paced and loved your inclusion of Tom, especially the final flashback sequence. I also enjoyed each Doctor’s opening titles, the new Eye of Orion backdrop, and also any scenes you cut weren’t noticeably missed from the edit. My only nitpick is the plausibility of the ‘State of Decay’ village and overseers being in the death zone, it doesn’t quite fit and seems at odds with the rest of Gallifrey. We’ve seen Gallifreyans who desire a primitive lifestyle in the wasteland in ‘Invasion of Time’, but the ones presented here seem not to even recognise where they are, and who they are, disparate from the rest of Gallifrey. I think the idea of the Vampire being timescooped is a neat idea, however…are the Timelords aware of this primitive village? Were its occupants time-scooped as well? Is the death zone in a little pocket of reality? That’s my only gripe, however; given the lack of Tom Baker footage, I think it worked really well. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • State of Decay is, I think, the only realistic option for including Tom in the story without having to resort to Rotoscoping, which I’ll leave to Kelvington!

      Hurndall talks about “getting the young fellow back from Gallifrey” and Troughton says that the Time Lords “walled it around with an impenetrable forcefield”… so yes, the rationale is that the entire Zone, including both the Dark Tower and the Vampire Tower is cut off from the rest of the planet.

      • Have you ever considered doing the Five Doctors as one of your Retcon scripts? That, along with a few of your famous pix to illustrate key scenes, would probably be the easiest way to get that dream version where Tom makes it into the Dark Tower with the others.

      • I would be fibbing if I said I hadn’t thought about it, Sean. It’s finding the time! But certainly on my “To Do” list – and there are Five Doctors pix scattered throughout the Whopix site.

  3. The Five Doctors is possibly a story I’ve arguably watched more than any other in my 14 years of being a fan of Doctor Who.

    I really enjoyed this new edit – and I’m sure you’d be flattered to know your mk2 is the version I go for – however I prefer this after first viewing because it is a lot slicker and cohesive. Mk2 was very good but I feel there was a fair bit to cut which you have now done, and watching a 2 part story gives it a better flow.

    I don’t know if you remember but after talking on Outpost Gallifrey years ago you sent me a VHS of the original edit, and it was amazing to see Tom fully involved even though it was a sidestory. The new edits have tightened things up along side the new matte shots and visual effects, there were times when the story focused on the State of Decay stuff and distracted from The Five Doctors however the way you have intercut now has solved that.

    It certainly does the job, while Tom is a sidestory there are similar themes and enough to make it work – The Fourth Doctor is no longer forgotten in his Time Eddy he is there throughout which is a massive achievement. It’s like a huge ‘what if’ filled in

    There are also tonnes of Easter Eggs in here, like the new ‘kidnap pentagon/figurines’ sequence and I like that the TARDIS scene with K9 MkII was followed immediately with a scene with K9 Mk III. The two cousins/brothers appearing side by side. The flashbacks were a nice touch.

    So The Five Doctors finally has Five Doctors, to me this will be the ‘go to’ version of the story now. Truly The Ultimate Edition.

    • It was rotoscoped frame by frame from Shada. Screengrab the frame, isolate the timescoop, overlay on the shot from Full Circle, but of motion blur to finish and voila!

    • It was rotoscoped frame by frame from Shada. Screengrab the frame, isolate the timescoop, overlay on the shot from Full Circle, but of motion blur to finish and voila!

  4. Pingback: The Five Doctors Telecomic #40 |

  5. This is also a rather nice edit however I noticed you gave the Fifth Doctor figure his Sonic Screwdriver when at this point the Sonic Screwdriver was destroyed. I’ve not seen if you’ve done a Visitation edit or not, but it is something I wished to point out anyhow.

    Another nice thing is the use of the Shada time scoop stuff to try and steal the State of Decay TARDIS, although I do think it could work better at this point to model and digitally insert a new time scoop design, so that for future re-edits you’ve got something you can work with that would always work rather than having to re-utilize the footage you’ve got for it, which is always the scoop in a daytime scenario

    • The sonic – it’s Borusa’s game board piece for a start and, like the others, was composited from pix of the AFs readily available online.
      And yes, I’ve done The Visitation: []

      …and everything else all the way from Unearthly Child up to Christmas Invasion. And quite a few beyond that. 209 in total and counting…

      The timescoop – nice idea but not a viable option since 1] creating such a thing was and still is outside of my skillset and 2] there will never be a future re-edit. At the time the sensibility was to use whatever broadcast footage was available and only create things, such as the alternate shot looking out onto the Eye of Orion, if absolutely necessary

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